What are my rights as a renter?

Starting July 1, 2021, all landlords must provide tenants with a Statement of Tenant Right and Responsibilities developed by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and posted on its website (dhcd.virginia.gov/landlord-tenant-resources) pursuant to Section §36-139 Code of Virginia

  1. Tenant Rights Applications: Tenants may be charged a nonrefundable application fee of no more than $50 (not including third party costs for a background check) and a refundable application deposit. If the tenant does not rent the unit, the application deposit must be returned, minus any actual costs or damages. (§55.1-1203)
  2. Written Lease: Under the VRLTA, a landlord is required to provide a tenant a written lease. If a landlord fails to do so, the VRLTA still protects a tenant by establishing a statutory lease between landlord and tenant for 12 months not subject to automatic renewal. (§55.1-1204) 
  3. Disclosure: A landlord must reveal certain information to the tenant, including any visible evidence of mold (§55.1-1215), the name and address of the owner or property manager (§55.1-1216) and notice of sale or foreclosure of the property. (§§55.1-1216, 1237). 
  4. Security Deposit: A landlord may require a security deposit of up to two month’s rent. Within five days of move-in, the tenant has a right to object to anything in the move-in report. The tenant also has a right to be present at a move-out inspection, which must be made within 72 hours of delivery of possession. (§§55.1-1214, 1226) 
  5. Receipts: Upon request, a tenant is entitled to a written receipt of rent paid by cash or money order. Upon request, a tenant is entitled to a written statement of all charges and payments over the past 12 months. (§55.1-1204(D), (I)) 
  6. Privacy: A landlord may not release information about a tenant without consent, except under certain conditions, which are generally when tenant information is already public. (§55.1-1209)
  7. Fit and Habitable Premises: A tenant has the right to a fit and habitable rental unit in accordance with the Uniform Statewide Building Code. The landlord must make all repairs needed to keep premises fit and habitable. (§55.1-1220) To enforce the right to get repairs, a tenant must be current in rent, give the landlord written notice and wait a reasonable period. If repairs are not made, a tenant can file a Tenant’s Assertion in General District Court. This must be filed no later than five days after rent is due. There is no rent withholding in Virginia, except under repair and deduct. (§55.1-1244) 
  8. Repair and Deduct: If an issue on the property affects life, health, safety, or seriously affects habitability, and a landlord has not begun to address it within 14 days after written notice from the tenant, the tenant may contract to have the repair done by a licensed contractor at a cost of not more than $1,500, or one month’s rent, whichever is more. The tenant may deduct the actual cost of the repair from the rent. The tenant must send the landlord an itemized invoice and a receipt for payment to the contractor for the work, along with any payment of remaining rent owed. (§55.1-1244.1) 
  9. Eviction: A landlord may not evict a tenant without following the court eviction process. The landlord first sends a written notice and next the landlord files an unlawful detainer lawsuit. The landlord must get a court order of possession, followed by a Writ of Eviction that is served by the Sheriff. (§§55.1-1245, 1252). A tenant not getting paid due to a federal shutdown of 14 or more days can get an eviction lawsuit for nonpayment of rent postponed for 60 days. (§44-209) 
  10. Redemption (Pay & Stay): After an unlawful detainer lawsuit for nonpayment of rent is filed, a tenant has the right to pay to a zero balance on or before the court date and have the lawsuit dismissed. After a court issues a judgment of possession, a tenant has the right to pay to a zero balance up to two business days before the Sheriff’s eviction and have the eviction cancelled. A tenant may use one of these rights only once in a 12-month period. (§55.1-1250) 
  11. Fair Housing: The tenant may have a right to file a fair housing complaint if the landlord or property manager violates the Virginia Fair Housing Act. (§36-96.1 et seq)
  12. COVID-19 Relief: A tenant not getting paid due to the state of emergency declared by the Governor for the COVID-19 virus can get an eviction lawsuit for nonpayment of rent postponed for 60 days by showing up on their court date and providing written proof within 90 days after the Governor’s ends the declaration of emergency. (§44-209) 

Show All Answers

1. How long do I have before my landlord can evict me?
2. Do I need show up for my court date?
3. What are my rights as a renter?
4. Can my landlord just kick me out now?
5. What should I do if my landlord tries to illegally lock me out of my rental?
6. Can I negotiate with my landlord to avoid eviction and catch up on the past-due rent?
7. What bills should I pay if I can’t afford all my expenses?
8. I need help, but don’t know where to go. Where do I start?
9. What additional resources are available?